By Michelle Sweetser
This post is the second in a series highlighting our recently elected steering committee members.
Christina Zamon, recently elected to a three-year term on the steering committee, is the Head of Special Collections and University Archives at Georgia State University, a position she has held since September 2016. Prior to that time, she served as Head of Archives and Special Collections at Emerson College. She is the author of The Lone Arranger: Succeeding in a Small Repository and formerly served as chair of the section (2014-2015).
Why or how did you find your way to becoming an archivist?
I became interested in being an archivist while working on my paper for Research and Writing Skills as an undergraduate history major. I stumbled on a subject where I couldn’t find any good secondary resources so I back tracked through the one secondary source I had (which wasn’t available in any local library) to the National Archives to complete my research. It was there that I decided that working with the documents would be more interesting than just using them for research, although I loved both sides of the coin. I then did an internship before my senior year of college at the NARA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional archive and federal records center and decided that special collections and archives was the right path for me.
And why college and university archives?
After working for non-profits and special collections libraries I realized that I liked the culture of the academic environment and particular, teaching other undergraduates how to use primary sources in their research and I hope that some will eventually make their way into the archival profession like I did.
What is your favorite trick to use in the classroom when teaching with primary sources?
I don’t really have any “tricks” per se, but I do like to ask the students questions that force them to think about how the item fits into the larger context of history and how it helps us to interpret a final outcome or a current situation.
Your book, The Lone Arranger: Succeeding in a Small Repository, was published by SAA in February 2012. What tips or advice do you give section members looking to publish?
If you have a topic you are passionate about or interested in writing, go for it! It isn’t as daunting as you might think. I had a well formulated concept in my mind but I never thought SAA or the profession, would go for such a “practical” book as opposed to something more theoretical but I was totally wrong. Don’t hold yourself back because you think SAA or another publisher isn’t interested.
As a lone arranger, how have you balanced the demands of the work place with your professional involvement in SAA and the NEA?
It has been no easy feat! I credit my organizational skills and my interest in advancing the profession. If I weren’t passionate about what I do I think it would be very difficult to motivate myself to do much beyond my day-to-day work.
What would you like to see the section concentrate on during your three year term?
I would like to see the section collaborate more with some of the Roundtables, particularly the Issues and Advocacy and Archives and Archivists of Color.